Master the Art of the Burr Coffee Bean Grinder: A Full Guide

You will want to invest in a coffee grinder to get the freshest coffee at home. However, suppose you are to go and shop for a coffee grinder. You may be overwhelmed by the options and types of grinders available. 

One popular grinder type is the burr grinder. What is a burr coffee bean grinder? How does it differ from the rest? Is it good? 

Burr coffee bean grinder works by crushing coffee beans between two revolving burrs. The burrs can differ by material, shape, and automation, with options likely to bring pros and cons. 

This article explores burr coffee bean grinders, especially how they differ from other grinders. We also look into the variations of burr grinders you can get.

Why Grind Coffee Yourself At The First Place?

Grinding your own coffee ensures you get the freshest coffee grounds. Grinding your own coffee also ensures you get a consistent grind, which allows you to brew a better cup of coffee. These allow you to extract the maximum flavors from your beans and get the best-tasting coffee.

Why waste so much time grinding your coffee when you can get the cafes to grind them straight up? 

As much as they sound inconvenient, there are reasons serious coffee drinks make their own coffee grounds.

Fresh Coffee Grounds

When roasters package their coffee for sale, they are often in bean form. The expectation is that the drinker can grind the beans down to sizes suitable for their brewing method. Some roasters also sell pre-ground coffee, though they are not as common.

Normally, most people ask the coffee reseller to grind the beans to their preferred coarseness. Some coffee stores have self-operated grinders as well.

The issue with that approach is that by grinding the beans early, you are breaking the beans up, drastically increasing the total surface of the coffee that interacts with the air. 

This means more flavor may escape the beans. On top of that, the essential oils that give coffee its unique taste may also oxidize and lose their flavor. If left for too long, they may even become rancid. 

As a result, those serious about getting the maximum enjoyment from their coffee prefer to grind the coffee right before brewing. This means they need a grinder for their personal use.

Consistent Sizes

Say you think using a grinder is overkill, and you can use a blender to chop the beans down, like spice. Some also may go really old-school, using a pestle and mortar. 

These are possible options, although they do come with some issues. First, they may produce inconsistent ground coffee. 

Your coffee grounds may not have similar sizes. Some may be bigger, and some may be smaller. As a result, the larger bits may not have all their flavors extracted when brewing. The smaller bits may end up being over-extracted and causing odd tastes to enter your coffee.

Second, the smaller bits may also travel through the filters and end up in your coffee. As a result, you get a powdery taste at the bottom of your cup. 

A proper coffee grinder could deal with size consistency much better, which makes it better than using a blender or food processor.

What Is A Burr Coffee Bean Grinder?

A burr coffee bean grinder turns coffee beans into ground coffee using two rotating pieces of burrs. As the beans get fed into the burrs, they get crushed and broken down into smaller and smaller pieces of coffee, ending up as coffee grounds. Most burr grinders are also adjustable. 

There are many types of coffee bean grinders out there. The most common type of grinders is blade and burr. 

Blade grinders work similarly to a blender or food processor. You feed the beans into the container, close the lid, turn on the switch, and watch the blades cut down to your desired size. 

Burr grinders use another motion to create grounds. Instead of chopping burr grinders, crush the beans. Burr grinders use two pieces of rotating burrs, which could be manual or electricity-powered. 

As the beans get fed into the burrs, the burrs crush the beans into ever smaller bits, eventually forming coffee grounds.

Burr grinders are commonly seen as the best type of coffee grinders, as they tend to be able to give the most consistent grind sizes. The motion of crushing also may activate and bring out the oils in the coffee, which may give your coffee a better taste.

What Are The Types Of Burr Coffee Bean Grinders?

Burr grinders may differ in several ways. Material, type, and operation. Each option may present its own pros and cons, so you must be clear with what you are looking for first.

AspectsVariationNotes
MaterialStainless Steel– Cheaper.
– May heat up and burn your coffee beans.
MaterialCeramic– More expensive.
– Sturdier than steel burrs.
– Does not heat up.
TypeFlat– Tend to produce a more consistent grind.
– Tend to trap more coffee grounds.
TypeConical– Less consistent grind.
– Wastes less coffee.
OperationManual– Cheaper.
– Easier to clean and maintain.
– May require a lot of time and effort to produce coffee grounds.
OperationElectric– More expensive.
– Harder to clean and maintain. 
– Easily produces ground coffee fast.

When shopping for burr coffee grinders, you may encounter several types. Burr coffee grinders typically differ in several ways:

Material

In the market, some burr grinders proudly claim that their burrs are made of ceramic, not steel. What is the difference?

Generally, steel burrs are sturdy and cheaper than ceramic grinders. The issue with steel burrs is that they may heat up if you continuously use them. 

The heat may affect the coffee beans and cause the final brew to taste different. However, if you make one or two cups of coffee daily in the morning, this should not be an issue. 

With ceramic, you spare yourself the worry about heat, as ceramic burrs do not heat up. If the burrs are made of alumina ceramic, they are three times harder than steel, which means you get better performance. However, expect to pay more for ceramic burrs.

Type

Another aspect of burr grinders you may want to take note of is the type or shape of the burr grinder you want. 

Generally, you may see two major types of burr grinders, flat and conical. Flat burrs consist of two flat burrs shaped like rings resting on each other. The beans get fed into the burrs from the inside edge. As the beans travel to the outer edge of the burrs, they get ground down. 

With conical burrs, instead of top and bottom burrs, you get inner and outer burrs. The inner burr is shaped like a cone with a solid inside. Picture a Hershey kisses for the shape here.

The outer burr is also conical, but the inside is empty. The coffee beans are fed from the top, and as it travels down into the burrs, they get ground down.

Many coffee enthusiasts agree that flat burr grinders may give you a more consistent grind than a conical burr. This should help you make a better cup of coffee with less powdering at the bottom of the cup.

However, flat burrs tend to waste more coffee, as not all the coffee grounds end up in the ground bin. This is because the flat burr’s design tends to trap ground coffee. 

As a result, you may see many flat burr grinder uses rotational power to try to remove these excesses. However, this additional functionality only makes flat burr grinders harder to maintain. 

With conical grinders, you do not face the issue of wastage. Since the beans travel from top to bottom in a conical burr, gravity does the job and ensures minimum wastage of coffee grinds. 

The only problem you need to contend with conical burrs is that they tend to not produce grinds as consistently as flat burrs.

Operation

You may also notice that there are manual and electric burr grinders. These may not need much explanation, but generally, manual grinders are cheaper. However, you may need to spend time and effort to produce coffee grounds since you need to rotate the burrs yourself. 

With electric burr grinders, you save that time and effort. However, cleaning and maintaining an electric burr grinder may be more difficult than a manual one. Manual grinders can be quickly and completely broken down and washed. 

Electrical grinders will take more time to disassemble and clean. Check out our guide on how to clean electric flat burr and conical burr grinders.

Final Thoughts

A burr coffee grinder is an essential tool for any aspiring coffee connoisseur. With its consistent grind size, precise settings, and adjustable coarseness, you can enjoy the perfect cup of freshly ground coffee every time.

Whether you’re looking for the best manual grinder or the best electric grinder, with a burr coffee grinder you can rest assured that your beans are ground to perfection, providing the perfect flavor and aroma.

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